|This late 19th Century cabinet photo depicts (I believe at the moment) members of the Bombay Volunteer Rifle Corps. The unit was established in 1877 and at the time sported red
tunics and dark blue trousers. This image dates perhaps 20 years later and the unit seems to have adopted the khaki much more commonly worn in India although they may still have
worn the red and blue for full dress. The three men and young bugler appear to possibly have been members of the same family. The oldest gentleman standing at right wears a medal
on his right breast which may be a life saving medal. The young bugler (or drummer) is armed with what appears to be 1857 pattern drummer's short sword which was standard with
regular British forces. tHe corporal at left is armed with a Martini Henry rifle and bears a volunteer pattern marksman or sharpshooters qualification badge on his left cuff.
The Bombay Rifle Volunteers apparently never saw any active service in the field in India although some members seems to have served in East Africa during World War One. Indian
colonial volunteer units are comparatively not very well known unlike those in southern Africa. This is probably due to the fact that they - like the Bombay Volunteer Rifles - where
never called upon by the Indian government to serve in the field simply because the need was never there. India was to well garrisoned by regular British troops and the existence of
the Indian Army certainly negated the volunteers ever being called upon. In any event the charter of the Bombay Rifles limited there service to the island of Bombay itself.
Fred Ahrlé & Company - Photographer
Ramp Row, Bombay, India